Towson shake-ups rattle foes

Tigers on a roll since changes

Men's notebook

College Lacrosse

April 07, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Towson coach Tony Seaman sees his 16th-ranked Tigers contending for another Colonial Athletic Association tournament title and a resulting automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But Towson had to make some changes to position itself for a stretch run.

The Tigers (6-3) finished March on a down note, losing three of four, including whippings at the hands of No. 7 Maryland and No. 3 Virginia and an 11-5 loss to unranked CAA rival Delaware. After pounding league opponent Drexel, 13-5, in the pouring rain, then nudging past tenacious UMBC, 8-6, over a four-day stretch, Towson feels like a contender again, with a new look.

Junior Steve Mull, who started the year at midfield, is back on attack and distributing the ball. Junior Kyle Fiat, who struggled on attack, moved to the second midfield unit, where he now teams with sophomore Nick Williams to form the team's fastest line. Sophomore midfielder Todd MacMullan now starts. Senior long-stick midfielder Ryan Cocchi is finally back after missing a month with a sprained ankle.

Sophomore attackman Bobby Griebe (Boys' Latin), for one, is thriving in light of the changes. He scored four goals in a seven-minute span to subdue Drexel, then put away UMBC with two fourth-quarter scores on Tuesday. He attributes his resurgence to the presence of Mull, who has three assists in the past two games.

"We played together all of last year [on attack]. We had chemistry then, and it seems to be clicking again this time," Griebe said.

"We're 2-0 [since making the changes]. How dumb was I for six games?" Seaman said.

Towson's two-year streak of winning the CAA still is in jeopardy. With Delaware and Villanova sitting atop the league standings with a 2-0 record, the 1-1 Tigers travel to Villanova on Saturday in a virtual must-win situation. A loss would drop Towson two games behind in the race to secure home-field advantage for the league tournament.

Official remembered

Longtime official Scott Boyle, who was 55 when he died Saturday after suffering a heart attack during the Navy-Georgetown game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, was buried yesterday.

Boyle made quite a name for himself in lacrosse circles over 36 years, including about 25 at the collegiate and pro levels, often working in the biggest games.

"He's the fairest guy who ever worked a game. What I loved about him was he would communicate," Seaman said. "He would let me blow off [steam]. Then he'd look over at me with that Irish smile and say, `Tony, you vented. You're done. I'm not changing [the call]. C'mon, smile at me, so nobody knows you're mad at me.' He was a good friend and one of my favorite people."

"I remember seeing him in one game years ago, either a college or a pro game. There was a scuffle going on, and you see sticks and helmets flying," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "Then, all of a sudden, you see Scotty dive in there and his hat goes flying off. It was like a cartoon.

"Scotty wasn't afraid to make a call. He was flamboyant, but he always hustled and gave it his best, honest shot. You didn't always agree with him, but you always respected him. He was great for the game."

Hopkins has no problem

In a season that has been marked by major upsets, No. 18 Albany - ranked for the first time in school history - thought on Tuesday it could catch top-ranked, host Johns Hopkins peeking ahead to tomorrow's showdown with visiting, unbeaten No. 2 Duke.

Forget it. Hopkins took a 12-2 halftime lead by outshooting the Great Danes, 30-6, in the first half, and rolled to a 19-6 victory.

"I think the seniors and the leaders on this team took this as a personal challenge to come out and show our fans, our families and the lacrosse world that we have the character to take it one game at a time," Blue Jays senior defenseman Chris Watson said.

"There have been some crazy [upsets] around the country and we didn't want to let that happen. This was about us coming out and playing our game."

The week ahead

No. 1 Johns Hopkins (7-0)

Schedule: vs. No. 2 Duke, tomorrow, 8 p.m.

Skinny: Only one undefeated team will remain after this confrontation. Duke's offense has been the most explosive in the game. Hopkins has allowed seven or fewer goals in every game but one. Something has to give.

No. 7 Maryland (5-3)

Schedule: at No. 8 Navy, tomorrow, 7 p.m.

Skinny: The Terps have scored only 17 goals in their past three games, two of them losses, and are putting too much pressure on outstanding sophomore goalie Harry Alford. Maryland needs another quality win and some restored confidence.

No. 8 Navy (7-2)

Schedule: vs. No. 7 Maryland, tomorrow, 7 p.m.

Skinny: The Mids started their challenging stretch run with a stinker against Georgetown. Last year's victory over Maryland stopped an 11-game losing streak against the Terps and kicked off Navy's ride to the NCAA title game. This group of Mids doesn't look ready for a repeat trip yet.

No. 16 Towson (6-3)

Schedule: at Villanova, Saturday, 7 p.m.

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